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BY Abu Mubarik, 3:00pm July 03, 2024,

How this former teacher-turned-CEO has helped Black businesses reach over $8M in sales

Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon (third from left) has helped black businesses succeed. Photo: Elevated Tour

Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon is the founder and CEO of The Village Market, a community-driven platform that aims to improve the profits of black-owned businesses through seasonal marketplaces, e-commerce, retail, and commercial opportunities. The platform also helps Black businesses forge strategic partnerships with major companies like Target, Mastercard, Walmart, and AT&T, according to Forbes.

Hallmon is also behind Elevate, an incubator program for black entrepreneurs that serves cities across the south and east coast as well as in LA. She has served over 1,440 companies and facilitated over $8 million in direct sales to black-owned businesses since 2016.

Hallmon spent 13 years in traditional education as an English teacher before evolving into entrepreneurship. “I had a vision of creating a modern village that embodied a lot of the principles of what Black Wall Street represented – self-determination, group economics, and collective economic mobility for black people,” she told Forbes. “I still get to teach, but differently. Like all good teachers, I get to model my newly found love of economic mobility and place-making.”

Hallmon believes that for entrepreneurs to grow, they must stay nimble and flexible, as well as be prepared for the learning curve. “The structure of your business, taxes, team, and KPIs will change dramatically and it’s important to evaluate often, pivot, and keep at it,” she advised.

One of the beneficiaries of Elevate’s program is Jennet Jackson, owner and CEO of WeatheredNotWorn.com. Jackson attributes her business’s success to one of the Atlanta-based programs. According to her, her social media following has grown by almost 15,000 and her revenue has increased by fivefold.

“We met experts across multiple industries, and gained valuable insights into how we should structure, market, operate and grow our business from ‘a nice hobby’ to a thriving enterprise,” Jackson told Forbes.

“We could also learn from the mistakes of others and get support from fellow cohort members, as well as receiving candid feedback from the program leaders.” 

Another beneficiary is Layla Bitoy-Dillon, founder and CEO of Bitoy’s Sweet Treats. She saw her revenue increase by 54% year over year, with social media following also increasing by 30k.

“What makes Elevate so special is the intentionality, change management, and continuous refinement,” she said. “Dr. Hallmon also helped me stay on top of my game to be a more effective leader.”

Empress Ayrial, the founder and owner of Luxurious Peace, said that taking part in Elevate led to a 26% increase in profits in 90 days and facilitated partnerships with well-known brands.

Other founders who have seen remarkable growth thanks to Hallmon include Ameka Coleman, the founder and CEO of Strands of Faith; Donna King, CEO and head designer at P. Sherrod & Co.; and Khadijah Ford, founder and CEO of Sugarluxe by Babycakes.

A recent Wells Fargo report cited by Forbes stated that Black women-owned businesses saw an impressive 32.7% jump in average revenues between 2019 and 2023. This number could keep rising thanks to people like Hallmon.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 3, 2024

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